cover image This Wheel of Rocks: An Unexpected Spiritual Journey

This Wheel of Rocks: An Unexpected Spiritual Journey

Marya Grathwohl. Riverhead, $29 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59448-730-9

Franciscan nun Grathwohl traces the genesis of her nature-centered spiritual outlook in her sensitive debut. Her first chapter, “Inklings,” is studded with natural details from a childhood spent “mesmerized by the Earth’s mysteries,” including the yellow pollen of lilies; the taxidermied remains of the last passenger pigeon at a zoo exhibit; a full moon in the night sky that her mother wakes her to see. From such early and deep roots, her love for God and God’s creation—Earth—flowered. As a young nun she spent time teaching and living with Crow and Northern Cheyenne peoples in Montana, where she nurtured her spirituality. Later studies at the Institute of Creation-Centered Spirituality in Chicago, Ill., helped ground her Earth-centered belief that “God created a universe that continues to create itself” and that divinity is inseparable from nature, as “spirit needs matter’s relationships in order to evolve and exist.” While Grathwohl’s workaday prose can sometimes drag, as when she recounts significant lectures that have influenced her (“Pointing to Earth she continued: ‘This is what we all breathe, eat, and drink.’ ”), flashes of insight also illuminate: “Mary Frances said, ‘Look, Sister, there is a wolf showing himself to us.’ ” Catholic readers will especially appreciate this nuanced exploration of a deep-rooted faith and well-lived life. (Nov.)